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Archive for March, 2008

Earth Hour

I’ve set the alarm on my cell phone to alert me at 7:50 PM tomorrow to turn off the lights and appliances in my house from 8 to 9PM.

This is Earth Hour‘s second year and the first in which I’ve participated. It originated in Sydney, Australia and was a local phenomenon. It has since gone global, and I’m interested to see how it will play out this year.

Hopefully someone out there will be measuring the collective drop in power consumption that will occur tomorrow night. The larger the drop, the more notice we’ll draw. In the US, there is a divide between those who accept the research on climate change and those who have their heads defiantly planted in the sand. I’m of the opinion that yes, we are effecting the climate with our carbon output, and yes, it is in our best interest to eliminate fossil fuels in favor of renewable, clean sources.

Those of us who accept the danger must take action directly, by reducing our own carbon footprint, and indirectly, by spreading the word about events like Earth Hour, and by making a noise about climate change to our friends, our families and our representatives in congress. Let your voices be heard, and let your home be dark on March 29th at 8PM.

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Ed Brayton over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars has a comment up about this article. Apparently King Abdullah of Saudia Arabia is calling for all people of the book, (ie; Muslims, Jews and Christians) to get together and combat the Great Evil of Atheism and the resultant drop in morality that has accompanied atheism’s global rise.

I really can’t say it any better than Ed:

I’m just not inclined to accept lectures about ethics from a brutal dictator whose regime beheads people for being of the wrong religion, puts gay people to death and has roving gangs (they call them police) whose job is to beat women who leave the house unattended by a male relative. You’re gonna lecture me on ethics, you fascist asshole? Fuck you. And your little god too.

I doubt the squabbling fundies who lead the major Shepherd God sects will be able to stop killing each other long enough to mount a serious fatwa against atheists. However, if there’s any common ground to be found amongst these crazies, this would be it.

Religious freedom is a right guaranteed by the US constitution, but the followers of The Book would like nothing more than to ensure that everyone “chooses” their particular brand of crazy. Secularists must be forever on guard to protect this right.

They execute people like us in King Abdullah’s world.

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This was posted in one of the Atheist communities I frequent. The poster and the first commenter made the following comments:

“Yep, we’re to assume God is responsible for everything around us, and for us to actually use our brains to solve questions/problems or whatever is blasphemy.”

and

“I just love how she tries to make god seem noble, gentle, and omnipotent. we all know that ‘god’ would be pissed if we actually tried to understand our world. we’re supposed to just assume that ‘god did it!’ and nothing more.”

However, I disagree…

The Word of God
Catherine Faber

And we who listen to the stars, or walk the dusty grade
Or break the very atoms down to see how they are made,
Or study cells, or living things, seek truth with open hand.
The profoundest act of worship is to try to understand.
Deep in flower and in flesh, in star and soil and seed,
The truth has left its living word for anyone to read.
So turn and look where best you think the story is unfurled.
Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the world.

From desert cliff and mountaintop we trace the wide design,
Strike-slip fault and overthrust and syn and anticline…
We gaze upon creation where erosion makes it known,
And count the countless aeons in the banding of the stone.
Odd, long-vanished creatures and their tracks & shells are found;
Where truth has left its sketches on the slate below the ground.
The patient stone can speak, if we but listen when it talks.
Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the rocks.

There are those who name the stars, who watch the sky by night,
Seeking out the darkest place, to better see the light.
Long ago, when torture broke the remnant of his will,
Galileo recanted, but the Earth is moving still
High above the mountaintops, where only distance bars,
The truth has left its footprints in the dust between the stars.
We may watch and study or may shudder and deny,
Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the sky.

By stem and root and branch we trace, by feather, fang and fur,
How the living things that are descend from things that were.
The moss, the kelp, the zebrafish, the very mice and flies,
These tiny, humble, wordless things — how shall they tell us lies?
We are kin to beasts; no other answer can we bring.
The truth has left its fingerprints on every living thing.
Remember, should you have to choose between them in the strife,
Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote life.

This poem seems more in favor of Spinoza’s God rather than the God of the bible. God less as an old man in the sky judging his unworthy creation, and more as the creative force behind nature, or just the embodiment of nature itself.
I prefer not to anthropomorphize nature, but that’s really all that’s happening here. It’s pantheistic, not theistic.

I posted something to this effect and one of the commenters issued a mea culpa. Still nothing from the original poster (who is not the poet).

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I apologize for using the same title as everyone else in the world, but it really is the only way.

Yesterday, Professor PZ Myers was yanked from a line to see a screening of the Ben Stein abomination Expelled. PZ is a gentleman and a scholar, and though I haven’t had the honor to meet the man, I’ve been an avid reader of his blog Pharyngula for years. He’s one of my personal heroes, and I generally think of him as my “Godless-Father” as he’s indirectly responsible for me finally shedding the “agnostic” label in favor of outspoken atheism.

Naturally, I’m a bit miffed on his behalf, but I also share his delight in the way things have worked out due to this expulsion. The producers of the film Expelled have made a documentary ostensibly based on the idea that the intellectual elite is stifling research into intelligent design theory in favor of a vague and underdeveloped concept of “darwinism.” I say”vague and underdeveloped” not about the theory of evolution, this is well established in science and as close to fact as the theory of gravity, but rather in reference to the producers of Expelled and the perception of evolution among the ID proponents and creationists out there. With arguments ranging across the whole spectrum of logical fallacies, creationists have been attacking evolution for the century and a half it’s been codified.

I’ll probably go more into depth about this in the future, it’s an issue I feel strongly about, and sometimes the crap these people pull gets me jumping up and down mad. For now the issue at hand is PZ’s treatment at the hands of these nutbars. A major theme of Expelled is freedom of speech, and the open dissemination of information. Yet the producers of this documentary have systematically excluded dissenting voices, and have carefully screened those they allow into their screenings.They’re perfectly within their rights to do so, but it is the height of hypocrisy.

The fact that the excluded PZ (who appears in the film) but allowed in Richard FUCKING Dawkins (who also appears in the film) just adds a layer of delicious comedy frosting.

I’m sorry this isn’t more cohesive. Hopefully as I blog more I’ll get better at it.

Next time maybe look for a discussion of the tendency some have to equate criticism and censorship.

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I chose the moniker “Friendly Contrarian” because I’m a naturally argumentative person, but I don’t get angry about it. If I am in a discussion with someone, and they express bullshit, I will call them on it. I will use citations if available, and do my best to make a case for why their position is bullshit. I’m a skeptic, an atheist, and a reader of varied subjects. I am by no means an expert in anything, but before going off on something, I will do my best to educate myself about it.

That said, should I acquire any readers and they choose to call me on my bullshit, I’ll be glad to revise my opinion should their evidence hold up.

In the mean time, I will be posting things that interest me. This will vary in subject from movie reviews, to links to points of comment on the web, to short opinion pieces. If this blog takes on a particular theme I may move solidly in that direction, but it will most likely never be entirely focused on a single subject. I have too many interests, and my attention will always waver.

I intend to keep this blog anonymous. This does not mean I’m hiding, or famous, or even all that interesting as a person. I just want this place to be about the ideas more than the person. We’ll see how that works out.

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